How The Gay Beards Used Fan Art to Raise Awareness for Men’s Health
Portland-based best friend duo Johnathan Dahl and Brian Delaurenti — better known to the world as the Instagram sensation The Gay Beards — are used to decorating their own facial hair with pretty and colorful things, but when the opportunity came last month in November (or “Movember”) to team up with photo-editing app and social network PicsArt to help raise awareness for men’s health, the two decided it was time to let their creative AF fans do some of the decorating.
And that’s how The Gay Beards’ Movember Image Remix challenge was born!
In an effort to raise awareness for men’s health issues that often go ignored by society, fans from all over the world were tasked with using PicsArt to put their own creative spin on John and Brian’s trademark beards — and the results were epic! PRIDE got to chat with John and Brian to learn more about how the challenge came about, and why they used art to shed light on topics that don’t nearly get visibility they deserve!
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Can you tell us about the genesis of this challenge? What inspired it and how did it come about?
The Gay Beards: Being creative and showcasing different artistic perspectives is an incredible avenue to bring lesser-known topics to light, such as men’s health. The celebration of No Shave November is the perfect opportunity to embrace the culture of facial hair, while also being able to have the discussion about these tougher subjects, such as prostate cancer, testicular cancer, and men’s suicide. As a society we tend to shy away from the things that are hard to talk about, and in the end, they end up getting swept under the rug. PicsArt is the perfect platform to bring color, humor, and expression to a cause that realistically needs so much more visibility. Encouraging others to feel empowered and unafraid to talk about men’s health, especially with the individuals in their lives who are most at risk, is truly the biggest inspiration of the Movember Challenge!
Why did you guys want to specifically do a fan-art challenge? Why was it important for you all to get fans involved?
So many of our followers are insanely talented and creative in ways that we can’t even begin to describe. Because of this, we knew that they would be up for the challenge of taking our naked beards and getting the chance to turn the tables and decorate them for us! When we first got wind of this opportunity, we both knew this would be such a special project to work on.
It’s a surprise to most, but 76% of our followers are female, and even though this is a challenge focused around men’s health, we knew they would be the perfect individuals to start the conversations with the men in their own lives. All we’ve ever wanted for our followers is to feel loved, live without the concern of what others think, and to not be afraid to stand up and fight for what’s important. In the case of men’s health, it’s a serious cause that so desperately needs attention, and knowing how strong and brave our fans are, we knew they were perfect for the job.
So what was the feedback like from fans? What was the craziest thing you saw fans draw on you guys? And how did you go about picking 3 faves?
People went crazy for this challenge! And we loved every second of it. So often we get requests or recommendations from our followers about what we should put in our beards, and everyone loved the idea of getting to finally decide for themselves.
With regards to the craziest thing we saw drawn on our beards, the list is absolutely endless. We got turned into dinosaurs, devilish gods, beefcakes swinging from vines in the jungle, tatted up thugs, Jack & Rose from Titanic (that was a hoot), cats, Smurfs, pirates, Mario & Luigi, Adam & Eve, and that doesn’t even begin to describe our adventure down the rabbit whole of internet drawing!
As for figuring out our top 3 picks, it’s easier to say that for us, it simply felt like an impossible task. We ultimately had to take a step back and decide what we were looking for in the winners. We love colors, stepping outside of the box, and most importantly, making people laugh. Those elements are ultimately what led us to decide who got the top three spots, but it really was so terribly difficult. In our hearts, everyone was a winner.
A lot of men’s health issues really still don’t get talked about enough. Why do you think men don’t talk about their health more? And why was it important for you all to partner with PicsArt to do this challenge and raise more awareness for men’s health?
This is absolutely the truth. There are likely a lot of factors that play into why men aren’t comfortable talking about their own health and the health of their friends. In our minds, the most limiting cause is the age-old belief that men are supposed to be tough and without concern of their well being. We aren’t supposed to cry, be sensitive, or take time to make sure that our own needs are being met. Or at least that’s what many men, over many generations have been taught. Ironically, we have received a lot of hate over the years from many men (and even some women) that believe we are destroying the sanctity of facial hair and the masculine vibes they give a man. This has given us a deep and unfortunate insight into the reality that there is still so much stigma fighting against a man’s ability to indulge in self care and have a proper outlook on their own health. PicsArt is so clearly a company that embraces self expression and the willingness to dare to be different. For us, we couldn’t ask for a more perfect partner. This is especially important because in today’s society, we need to be able to ask men to dare to be different, and not be afraid to be vulnerable. Many may ask why? But really, it just might save their lives.